December 15, 2016 1:21 pm
Updated: December 15, 2016 8:34 pm

Get rid of daylight saving time switch? Alberta MLA pushing for referendum

WATCH ABOVE: For months, the Alberta government has been quietly consulting with Albertans and says it's hearing there's no use for the twice-yearly time chage. Kendra Slugoski explains.

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In the time since Vermillion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke tabled a petition Tuesday in the legislature calling for Alberta to stick with daylight saving time year round, the PC MLA gotten support from some unlikely supporters. And quite a few phone calls from people wondering how it affects them.

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“I’ve heard from private individuals right across the province,” Starke said in a phone interview about 24 hours after tabling nearly 800 names. “I did get a concern from a gentleman who’s involved in the operation of a golf course who was concerned about which time we would be on year round, and when I assured him it would be the same as we have in the summer months then he was fine.”

READ MORE: Time Change: 9 things you didn’t know about DST around the world

To clear up what we’d be dealing with, think of it this way: right now in the winter we’re an hour different from Saskatchewan, which shares the same Central Time Zone as Winnipeg. In the summer we’re the same time. Under what Starke is proposing we’d be with Saskatchewan all year around.

“That would be the same,” Starke said.

“What would be different for us is what we have in the winter time.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan may benefit by not changing its clocks during daylight saving time

Right now in the dead of winter when Albertan head into work, the sun is coming up around 8:30 a.m. Under the proposed new system the sun would come up around 9:30 a.m., with more daylight in the late afternoon.

Starke said it was first brought in out of concern about power usage, but that’s not a concern any more. He is worried about the loss of an hour’s sleep when we spring forward.

“There’s an increased incidence of motor vehicle accidents. There’s an increased incidence of heart attacks.”

READ MORE: 4 ways Daylight Saving Time affects your health, internal clock

With the petition tabled on the final day of the fall sitting, the next step is to see if any MLA takes up the cause, likely as a private member’s bill.

Starke does not have a slot in the private member’s lottery. “If one of the other individual members that has a private member’s bill and decides to take this on as one of their causes, that could be the next opportunity we have to debate this issue.”

READ MORE: UBC economist looks into whether Daylight Saving Time is really necessary

He said even a couple of government members called him after the petition was tabled, showing some interest. A time change was once on the agenda at the NDP policy convention, but it was never debated.

Watch below: Did you know Daylight Saving Time was first used in Canada? Trish Kozicka has more on the origins of DST.

However, an NDP MLA says he’s been canvassing people and groups for six months on whether the province should abandon Daylight Saving time. NDP member Thomas Dang, who represents the riding of Edmonton South West, says his report will be ready in the next couple of months.

Dang says he’s been doing work on it since the NDP at its policy convention passed a resolution to ask the government to abolish Daylight Saving time. The question Dang is considering is if Alberta should join Central Time, like Saskatchewan, or stay on Mountain time and not move clocks forward in the spring.

He says he’ll introduce a private member’s bill once the results show what the public wants.

READ MORE: Parents, take heart: 4 tips to help kids adjust to Daylight Saving

Eventually Starke would like to see a referendum. “That’s how we got daylight savings time in the first place,” Starke said. “It was a province wide referendum. I believe, in fact, it was the last time we had a province-wide referendum in Alberta.”

That was in 1971.

© 2016 630 CHED, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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